The New York Jets lost their sixth game in a row as the team imploded in the fourth quarter falling 26-22 to the Tennessee Titans. How does each unit grade out following yet another disappointing defeat?
Good football teams find ways to win games and the best of those good teams manifest new ways to win. On the flip side, bad football teams will always find a way to lose games with the worst of those teams inventing fresh methods of losing each and every week.
The New York Jets are a bad football team, a very bad football team.
This was evident as the team blew a two-score fourth-quarter lead against a Tennessee Titans team that had no business being competitive on Sunday. Marcus Mariota and the Titans looked lost committing bone-headed penalties, special teams blunders, and failing to capitalize on an abundance of offensive opportunities.
But somehow, despite Tennessee handing the Jets the game on a silver platter, Gang Green decided to return the gift to its sender.
The offense stalled in the fourth quarter and the defense folded at the worst possible time allowing the Titans to march down the field and score a game-winning touchdown. This is not the first time something like this has happened under head coach Todd Bowles and despite all signs pointing to just four games remaining in his tenure with the team, it might not even be the last.
That being said, there were still some salvageable takeaways for the ever-optimists in this game. How much did those positives actually impact the team grades, however?
There’s only one way to find out.
The Jets offense is an absolute mess and it doesn’t appear to be getting cleaned up anytime soon.
Despite the team putting up 22 points, the Jets offense failed to reach the end zone for the second time in the past four games as the team settled for five Jason Myers field goals and relied on a Trumaine Johnson pick-six to score points.
Josh McCown once again received the start under center and the 16-year veteran threw for just 128 yards. His stat line tells a tale of monotony and complacency.
It’s not as if the Jets offense was turning the ball over. With the exception of a late desperation heave from McCown, the Jets didn’t turn the ball over once in the game. And it’s not as if the Jets were losing chunks of yards from sacks as McCown was only brought down twice for a grand total of four yards lost.
Rather, the offense was dull. They were lifeless and mundane.
The Jets looked completely incapable of moving the football down the field with a lack of creativity from the playcalling and questionable game management being chief among the concerns.
Running backs Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon were given just 12 touches as compared to Isaiah Crowell’s 25. Rookie tight end Chris Herndon, fresh off a seven-catch performance against New England hauled in just two passes. And perhaps the most talented player on the entire offense, Quincy Enunwa, was limited to just two catches for nine yards.
There are talented pieces on that offense and in many ways, the offense has essentially the same players with the unit that they did last year. It’s not as if the Jets offense was a group of All-Pros last season, but they sure moved the football a lot better than they have this year.
Jets fans, however, shouldn’t be holding their breaths.
Overall, it was an abysmal showing from a unit that has seemed lost for over a month with the only positives coming courtesy of a solid performance from the offensive line and an above-average running game.
Final Grade: D-
Next: Defensive Grades
The Jets defense played three quarters of very good football aided by some very poor play from Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense. However, when push came to shove, the unit folded with foolish penalties and undisciplined play leading to a Titans game-winning touchdown drive.
The game started off great for the defense with the often-criticized Trumaine Johnson picking off his second pass of the season and taking it to the end zone for what would be the Jets only touchdown of the evening. Johnson has had a pretty rough season missing a good chunk of time with a quad injury and playing poorly even when healthy.
Still, Johnson quietly had a pretty solid game last week against New England and followed it up with another encouraging performance here in Tennessee. The former Los Angeles Ram still has a lot to do to live up to the 5-year, $72.5 million contract he signed with the Jets in the offseason, but the last two weeks have been promising.
Johnson’s partner in crime, however, didn’t fare nearly as well. Morris Claiborne had himself a rough game getting beaten on a number of deep balls and being the recipient of three different defensive holding penalties. Claiborne hasn’t necessarily had a poor season and at times the former Dallas Cowboy has looked pretty good, but this was definitely not his finest outing.
The Jets did manage to see some life out of their pass rush as both Jordan Jenkins and Frankie Luvu recorded sacks. The former picked his up on a straight rush against former All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin while the latter was able to beat Conklin on a stunt to bring down Mariota midway through the first quarter.
The team’s pass rush has been slightly improved from last season and while that may not be saying much, it is good to see young players such as Jenkins and Luvu making plays down the stretch.
Two final shoutouts should go out to both Jamal Adams and Darron Lee who each put together very good performances in defeat. For Adams, it was another 10+ tackle day with another sack to boot and while there weren’t as many flashy plays this time around, it’s clear that Adams is the best player on the field when he’s out there.
Lee, on the other hand, had likely his best showing since his two-interceptions game against the Detroit Lions in Week 1 coming away with eight tackles and proving to be a steady presence in run defense and pass coverage all game long. The former high school quarterback has really come into his own as a linebacker this season and has turned the narrative of him being a bust into a narrative of him being a building block of the Jets future.
Altogether, the Jets defense played well at points but was certainly helped out by a lackluster game from Mariota and the Titans offense. The inexcusable late-game meltdown ultimately drags the grade down an entire letter grade.
Final Grade: C-
Next: Special Teams Grades
Special Teams Grade
If there’s one unit that should be leaving Nashville with their heads held high its the Jets special teams unit. The special teams did basically everything right as the unit continues to be the most consistent and best all-around aspect of the team each and every week.
Kicker Jason Myers continued his All-Pro season with his best game since his record-setting performance back in Week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts connecting on all five of his field goals, including another kick from 54 yards out.
It goes without saying that Myers has been one of the Jets best and most surprising players and at this point, a trip to Orlando for the 2019 Pro Bowl is well-deserved. He may not make it due to steep competition from proven commodities like Justin Tucker or kickers from high-powered offenses such as Harrison Butker.
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But make no mistake about it, Jason Myers has been the best kicker in the AFC this year.
Elsewhere, the Jets picked up their first blocked and recovered kick since 2013. In fact, the feat was so impressive that they decided to do it twice.
Nearing the end of the second quarter, reserve linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis went untouched by the Titans punt block team and proceeded to block Brett Kern’s punt and recover it for a huge special teams turn of events. Not even five minutes later, the Jets managed to get their hands on a Ryan Succop extra point attempt as Henry Anderson snuck through to block a low kick from the former Mr. Irrelevant.
On top of that, return man Andre Roberts returned the opening kickoff of the second half 59 yards setting the Jets up in great field position to begin the half.
The Jets special teams unit essentially kept the Jets in the game for most of the evening and was really the only unit contributing much of anything, save for Trumaine Johnson’s pick-six. Accounting for Myers 16 points from field goals and extra points and Pierre-Louis’ blocked punt which led to a field goal, it’s safe to say that the special teams unit was solely responsible for any of the Jets success in this game.
The only real negative comes from punter Lachlan Edwards‘ two touchbacks, one of which was in excellent position but failed to get downed by gunner Trenton Cannon.
Outside of the punting which was adequate at worst, it was an all-around stellar showing from the Jets special teams. Plenty of credit should go to coordinator Brant Boyer for completely turning around a unit that had been one of the worst in the league over the past couple of seasons.
Even despite the negatives of two touchbacks, it’s hard to ask for much more from a special teams unit making this A+ grade well-deserved for the only unit that showed up on Sunday.
Final Grade: A+
Next: Coaching Grades
It’s a story that has become quite consistent with the Todd Bowles era. Some may even say it has become synonymous. The Jets looked to be in good shape to win a game for three quarters before completely falling apart in the fourth quarter due to a lack of discipline and conservative play-calling.
This book has been written before. I’m pretty sure its a 12-part novel series at this point.
The same issues continued to plague the Jets late in games and it’s hard to blame that on anybody but the coaches. The players are the ones playing the games, but there’s a reason good football teams don’t fall apart late in games. There’s a reason good football teams don’t consistently commit boneheaded penalties at the worst possible times.
It’s because good football teams tend to have good head coaches.
Unfortunately, Bowles has failed to prove his worth as a head coach during his time in New York and the former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator is coaching on borrowed time right now. His fate has all but been sealed and his tenure with the Jets will surely come to an end at the conclusion of the 2018 season.
This game was just another chapter in the novel series that has been Bowles tumultuous time with the Jets. For now, fans could only look forward to the conclusion of this woeful horror series.
Bowles was far from the only coach to make a blunder in this game. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates once again put together an uninspiring gameplan leading to another vapid offensive showing.
Bates failed to get some of his best playmakers involved in the offense with Elijah McGuire seeing a diminished role and Chris Herndon and Quincy Enunwa being criminally underutilized. Enunwa especially is a player that has been misused to the highest degrees this season.
The Nebraska product can do so many things well as a receiver making the Jets decision to use him solely as a short catch-and-run receiver baffling. Enunwa thrived back in 2016 with his intermediate dig routes and has shown the ability to run a variety of routes during his NFL career.
Still, Bates continues to utilize Enunwa in wide receiver screens for the majority of his targets limiting the former sixth-round pick’s ability to contribute. There are ways to manufacture touches for your best players that are not screen passes and it, unfortunately, appears that Bates is unaware of that notion.
It was another embarrassing game for the Jets coaching staff which has solidified itself as one of the least respected in the league after weeks of poor game management and shoddy playcalling. Once again, this game was just another chapter.
The only saving grace was an excellent showing from the special teams proving that whatever coordinator Brant Boyer is drawing up is working.